Per Montgomery County:
For Immediate Release: Monday, October 31, 2022
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Congressman Jamie Raskin, County Council President Gabe Albornoz, Council Vice President Evan Glass, Federal, State and local officials and corporate partners including AlphaStruxure today celebrated completion of the Brookville Smart Energy Depot in Silver Spring with a ribbon-cutting event. The nation’s largest solar bus charging infrastructure project will supply clean energy to the County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) growing Ride On electric bus fleet.
The project was completed through a partnership between the County’s Department of General Services (DGS) and AlphaStruxure, a leader in Energy as a Service (EaaS) solutions. It is the third microgrid in the U.S. that will use solar power to charge buses for public transportation. The project was delivered at no upfront cost to the County through an EaaS contract, a long-term agreement ensuring predictable operating expenses and guaranteed performance without upfront capital expenditures.
“This project has been garnering attention nationally because it is innovative, groundbreaking, and will help us achieve our ambitious climate action plan to reduce all carbon emissions by 2035,” said County Executive Elrich. “Transportation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas. We are leading by example by going emission-free. We are the third nationally to have solar-powered charging stations for our buses and we are the largest so far. We should be able to fill these charging stations with 70 electric buses by 2026. We have already got a good start of 14 and expect to order another 30 or so next year for a total of about 44 buses. We are well on our way to our goal of an emissions-free fleet by 2035 and improving the County’s resilience. I want to thank DGS, MCDOT, and AlphaStruxure, along with their parent companies Schneider Electric and Carlyle, for working together with us to make this project a reality for Montgomery County.”
The project includes solar panels installed on tall canopies with charging stations, onsite battery storage and backup generation at an existing MCDOT Ride On bus depot. It will provide clean, renewable energy to charge up to 70 electric buses by 2026, with ample electric storage. The project contributes significantly to expanding the needed infrastructure for the County’s growing zero-emission fleet, of which MCDOT Ride On transit buses are a major part. The County has an aggressive goal to transition its fleet, including buses and maintenance vehicles, to zero carbon emissions by 2035.
The County currently has 14 electric buses and will be purchasing additional buses once a new procurement contract for up to 100 buses is complete early next year. Federal funds were used to purchase the first four electric buses. The depot will meet the full charging capacity of the depot, 70 electric buses, by 2026.
This resilient microgrid will provide uninterrupted power to MCDOT’s Ride On transit electric buses. Transitioning 70 buses from diesel to electric, powered by the on-site clean energy microgrid, will reduce lifetime emissions by 62 percent equivalent to more than 160,000 tons of greenhouse gas reduction over the next 25 years.
“The Brookville Solar Project ensures uninterrupted bus services during any long-term power outages caused by severe weather as well as any short-term disturbances of the utility grid,” said County Council President Albornoz. “With global warming and our increase in aggressive weather events, building for resiliency is so important. Many of our residents are dependent on our public transportation system for essential trips, and we’re helping to ensure its reliability.”
A megawatt (MW) is one million watts. For perspective, one MW of electricity will power between 400 and 900 homes for a year. The 6.5 MW Brookville microgrid includes bus-height solar canopies, battery energy storage and more than 4.14 MW of charging capacity. The microgrid can operate on 100 percent renewable energy.
“The path toward a greener future is through a greener transportation fleet,” said Council Vice President Glass. “The Brookville microgrid will allow us to reduce our carbon emissions, improve our air quality and take us one step closer to meeting our climate goals. This is a great moment for transit and our environment.”
MCDOT has developed a Bus Transition Plan to ensure the current 400-bus fleet is on track to become a zero-emissions fleet by 2035. The plan is flexible and will adjust for new technology as it becomes available, said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin.
“This project will provide the needed infrastructure for a good number of our electric buses, but we know we have a lot more to build to support our goal of a zero-emission fleet by 2035,” said Director Conklin. “We have a bus transition plan that we have developed as a living document so that it can adjust for new technology as it becomes available. We are anticipating that we will require a diversified fleet to meet our goals of replacing our current 400-bus fleet. To cover our longer routes, allow for charging, and the demands of increased service levels over time, we will need more than 400 zero-emission buses offering varied service benefits, but I am optimistic. We are off to a great start with Brookville, and we are ahead of the game nationally.”
Montgomery County leveraged its progressive energy purchasing regulations to create a public-private partnership with AlphaStruxure, which was announced in May 2021. AlphaStruxure, a joint venture of Schneider Electric and the Carlyle Global Infrastructure Opportunity Fund, designed, built, financed and now owns and operates the project, providing a holistic solution for large-scale fleet electrification.
“This is the third microgrid project undertaken by Montgomery County, but the one that will have the greatest impact on County residents,” said DGS Director David Dise. “Reducing the County’s dependence on fossil fuels is vital to our future. Equally vital is ensuring that public facilities are resilient to the unpredictable impacts of climate and infrastructure degradation. This project is a model of successfully addressing both challenges and we did it through a public-private partnership at no upfront cost to taxpayers.”
The microgrid and charging infrastructure will be delivered at no upfront cost to the County through the EaaS contract, a long-term agreement ensuring predictable operating expenses and guaranteed performance for sustainability, resilience, and reliability.
“The transportation infrastructure of tomorrow is up and running today in Montgomery County,” said Juan Macias, CEO of AlphaStruxure. “We are thrilled to partner with Montgomery County on this holistic solution that delivers improved, cleaner services to County constituents. This benchmark project serves as a national model for municipalities and private fleet owners across the county.”
The Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot ensures a ready supply of sustainable, resilient and cost-effective power for the County’s growing electric bus fleet. By charging from its own power supply, the County will avoid utility demand charges and will not have to set bus charging schedules around the utility’s time-of-use rates.